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Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus hosts Juneteenth program

Hill-Evans amends Charter School bill

(Jun 12, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, today announced that her amendment to H.B. 357 has been adopted in the House chamber. “Certain charter schools have complicated our public school funding formula for years, and the funding that goes to public schools should not be going to these charters if they have plans to disband or terminate their charter,” Hill-Evans said. “I’m happy that my colleagues have agreed to my amendment that would make it illegal to allow more students to enroll at a charter school if they plan to eliminate their charter. Our tax dollars and our students should not be sent to a charter school if it is going to be shut down within less than a year.” Hill-Evans' amendment would make it so that upon notification of a nonrenewal or termination of a charter, a charter school may not enroll new students unless the charter school files an appeal to the Charter School Appeal Board. If that appeal is denied, the charter school must immediately stop enrolling new students. In 2013-14, the York City School District paid $9 million in charter school tuition to New Hope Academy, with nearly half a million attributable to New Hope’s enrollment growth between 2012-13 and 2013-14. The school closed in 2014. The latest to shut down is Helen Thackston Charter School after a legal battle over audit reports with the York City School District, and a decision not to appeal the court ruling ordering it to Read more


Cephas: Bill to protect workers from sexual harassment passes House (with video)

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – Bipartisan legislation that would protect employees in the commonwealth from sexual harassment in the workplace passed in the House today by a vote of 199-0, said state Rep. Morgan Cephas, prime co-sponsor of the bill. House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring current or prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment. It would not prevent such an agreement if both parties consent to it. “Sexual harassment can take many vile forms. The one thing all these reprehensible acts have in common, however, is that they frequently involve attempts by the perpetrator to silence the victim – to exert undue influence and power over them,” said Cephas, D-Phila. “It’s often done through an insidious practice in which the employee is forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.” Cephas said the bill would prohibit employers from forcing employees to sign agreements that prevent them from disclosing, reporting or participating in a sexual harassment investigation. “This bill would be an important step toward protecting all employees in the commonwealth from the scourge of sexual harassment, the pain and humiliation it inflicts on victims and the havoc it can wreak on their lives,” Cephas noted. “The legislation is a product of bipartisan effort, thanks to the prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Kate Klunk.” House Read more


Response to Philadelphia Police Officers' Investigation

(Jun 06, 2019)

We are hopeful that the Philadelphia Police Department will conduct a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into widespread social media posting of racist and offensive content by certain officers. In our letter to Commissioner Ross, we’ve encouraged him to publicly hold accountable those found to be responsible and to send a clear message that racism will not be tolerated in any form. Read more


McClinton, Nesbit call for passage of automatic expungement legislation

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton and Tedd Nesbit were joined by advocates, legal experts and fellow colleagues for a news conference to urge the General Assembly to pass their bipartisan legislation that would automatically expunge some people’s criminal record. “There are women and men who have served their time for a minor offense, yet they are still being punished while no longer being incarcerated. Their criminal record is a blemish that is prohibiting them from obtaining employment, purchasing a home and walking into a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “It’s time that we remove the unnecessary roadblocks so these people can move forward with their lives.” House Bill 440 would provide an opportunity to expunge a person’s record if they have been unconditionally pardoned or fully acquitted of all charges. The commonwealth would receive notice of a potential expungement and would have an opportunity to object and conduct a hearing. “It’s plain and simple: individuals that are fully acquitted or pardoned of crimes should not have to be forced to carry the burdens and stigma that are associated with a criminal record,” said Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. “That’s what this bill seeks to do—improve our expungement laws and remove barriers to employment for the people of the commonwealth. I am excited to work with Read more


Kinsey Honors Local Marine Hero

(Jun 04, 2019)

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, honors local hero Cpl. Earl Guydon, who was one of the founding Marines to integrate the Corps during WWII. Cpl. Guydon was awarded the congressional gold medal in 2012 and was a stalwart and humble pillar in the community his entire life. Read more


Burgos Stands Up For Democracy, Pushes For Voting Reforms

(Jun 04, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Danilo Burgos joined colleagues in Harrisburg to support voting reforms. He discussed how these proposals are critical in ensuring democracy across the commonwealth. Read more


Kenyatta bill to ensure permanence of ‘Stop and Go’ enforcement clears committee

(Jun 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – Legislation authored by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., to make Pennsylvania’s law that better deals with “stop and go” nuisance establishments ironclad, today was approved by the House Liquor Control Committee. Kenyatta’s bill (H.B. 1434) would move the language that cracks down on nuisance establishments, which was originally included in the state Fiscal Code (Act 44 of 2017), to the state Liquor Code. He said the Liquor Code is the correct place for this important law. “The key to holding ‘stop and go’ businesses accountable is to ensure the law is solid and enforceable,” Kenyatta said. “Since this landmark law passed in October 2017, we have seen an increase in investigations by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and, ultimately, stricter compliance. However, the language of the law was placed in a state code that deals with financial matters of state government. It’s no place for liquor enforcement, and I am glad the members of the Liquor Control Committee agree.” Under the 2017 law, if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board finds that a licensed establishment does not meet the seating, square footage, food, or health requirements under the state Liquor Code, it can suspend the license immediately. The law also gives local governments the power to recommend that the LCB investigate establishments believed to be failing to meet code requirements. “I am Read more


Kenyatta appointed to Suicide Prevention Task Force

(May 30, 2019)

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila, responds to statewide Suicide Prevention Task Force appointment: Thank you to Governor Wolf for this appointment to the unprecedented Suicide Prevention Task Force. As public servants, we are obligated to ensure our residents are physically, emotionally and mentally well. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues to help Pennsylvanians in crisis know that they are valued and to develop long-term solutions to curb this depressingly increasing trend. Suicide is the 10 th national leading cause of death, according to a 2018 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This tragedy hit home when I received a phone call from the grandmother of 11-year-old Phillip, a child from my district, informing me he died as a result of suicide, as a result of being constantly bullied. He sought help from the few mental health professionals at his school, but he was told to wait. He later went home and took his own life. For me, this was the worst day since being elected, but I made the choice to mourn with a mission. In Phillip’s memory and to prevent the loss of another young life to this tragedy, I introduced legislation-Phillip’s Law- to ensure mental health help is available when students need it most. If you or someone you love is in crisis or you are considering harming yourself, free help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Read more


Kenyatta slams Trump administration rollback of transgender protections

(May 29, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, May 24 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today released a statement criticizing the Trump administration for their proposal to eliminate “gender identity” as a factor in the nation’s healthcare system. “The cruelty of this administration seems to know no bounds. Time and time again, we continue to see the rights of the LGBTQ community chipped away by this administration that feeds off the hatred and fear of its base,” Kenyatta said. “I continue to do everything in my power to highlight these injustices and push for meaningful civil rights legislation at the state level to protect all of our citizens, regardless of how they identify, or on any basis of sex or gender. This political move directly threatens to undermine nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people that were provided under the Affordable Care Act. This puts LGBTQ people at a higher risk of being denied the health care they need, solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a direct attack on civil rights, and quite simply wrong.” LGBTQ and Transgender rights activist groups are alarmed at the rollback of protections. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published its proposed regulation on Friday, which would eliminate a 2016 regulation inserted by the Obama administration that redefined discrimination “on the basis of sex” to include gender identity. This provision of the Affordable Read more


Kenyatta introduces “Phillip’s Law”

(May 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced that he would be co-sponsoring legislation referred to as “Phillip’s Law,” which would provide for a study on school mental health professionals. “It is with a deeply saddened heart that I ask for support from my colleagues,” Kenyatta said. “An 11-year-old student from my district named Phillip committed suicide after enduring prolonged bullying from his peers. This tragedy has brought to light the fact that our school mental health professionals are not always available due to budget constraints and, in fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff. We need to take an honest look at the number of mental health professionals in our schools and how we can provide the best access to our students to prevent tragedies like this in the future.” Kenyatta’s bill would require the Department of Education to investigate and report on the number of mental health professionals in schools in order to make recommendations on how to increase the number of school mental health professionals to meet nationally accepted ratios. Phillip’s family said that Phillip had tried to get the attention of the support staff at his school but was told that he had to wait. Afraid to miss the bus, and worried about his younger brother, Phillip left school and later that day took his own life. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Read more


Bullock selected member of CSG national task force subcommittee

(May 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., has been selected to participate on a subcommittee of The Council of State Governments’ national Future of Work Task Force. “The CSG Future of Work Task Force will bring together a diverse group of state officials to explore how states can best navigate the challenges and opportunities of the new economy,” CSG Executive Director David Adkins said. “The task force will examine how technology creates new jobs and eliminates existing jobs, and it will share success stories and best practices and provide guidance on how states can best embrace the innovative and ever-evolving opportunities in the new economy.” Bullock will serve as a member of the Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee. The subcommittee will explore how states can promote and encourage equity and inclusion in the new economy by examining and addressing issues and barriers that underserved communities face. “I’m beyond excited to take the reins and get to work on just how we support inclusive and diverse job and career growth,” Bullock said. “Ever since I came to the legislature, I have been working to ensure that everyone, no matter their race, gender or economic standing, has the same opportunities to succeed, and this Task Force will only give me more tools to advance these policies.” Bullock serves as vice chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and secretary of the Read more


Kinsey: $40,800 grant to aid Center in the Park

(May 03, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 3 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., said that a $40,800 Senior Community Center Grant has been awarded to the Center in the Park senior center in Philadelphia. “I’m grateful that this grant has been awarded to make improvements and modernize these facilities,” Kinsey said. “I want to thank Governor Tom Wolf for the ongoing commitment in investing in the future of Philadelphia. With proper funding, this center ensures that our older population ages with grace.” Center in the Park has a wide variety of offerings that include nutritious meal programs, educational opportunities, transportation services, financial and insurance counseling, exercise programs, and more. The Pennsylvania Lottery is responsible for funding this project with a total of $2 million being distributed to 49 senior centers throughout the commonwealth. This announcement takes place during Older Americans Month – a time for the nation to pay tribute to older adults and their contributions to the country and their communities. For more information on senior community centers, visit aging.pa.gov/SCC . ### Read more


Gov. Wolf Joins Legislative Black Caucus, Community Members at Clean Slate Event

(May 02, 2019)

Gov. Wolf Joins Legislative Black Caucus, Community Members at Clean Slate Event Read more


4/23/19 – Re-Entry Initiatives – Philadelphia

(Apr 26, 2019)

Materials from joint public hearing with House Democratic Policy Committee. Read more


Kinsey and Grey Panthers meet at SCI Phoenix

(Apr 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 25 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., and chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the PLBC recently held a meeting at SCI Phoenix in conjunction with the Grey Panthers to discuss medical parole and the early release of elderly inmates, as it relates to H.B. 642 that he introduced. “Ultimately, we are working together to find a humane alternative to incarceration for non-violent elderly inmates,” Kinsey said. “The results would end in reducing the costs of our prison systems, while simultaneously lessening the burden on our correctional facilities and their workers. For inmates over the age of 50, and especially 65, research shows lower recidivism rates, higher costs due to health care and special needs. We can do better for them and their families.” Kinsey’s bill would permit elderly inmates to petition the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole for medical parole and early release. Individuals convicted of violent crimes would not be eligible, and all decisions to approve or reject petitions would be up to the discretion of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. The number of state and federal prisoners older than 55 in the U.S. is predicted to grow rapidly, surpassing 400,000 by the year 2030. On average, it costs almost $70,000 per year to incarcerate an individual 50 or older. This is nearly double the cost for the overall average prisoner. Recent studies show that Read more


Pa. Legislative Black Caucus hosts public hearing on reentry initiatives

(Apr 23, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, April 23 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced that the PLBC hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on re-entry initiatives featuring Pennsylvanians who’ve overcome past transgressions and made storied contributions to the state. Kinsey requested the hearing, held at Temple University, to further explore criminal justice reform initiatives that will help prepare individuals who paid their debt to society to transition back into the workforce and reduce recidivism rates. The Chairman was joined by legislators from the across the state including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Those who testified in front of the Democratic Policy Committee and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus this evening, served as the proverbial shining light that will hopefully guide us to more empathetic lawmaking in regard to re-entry initiatives,” Kinsey said. “I chose re-entry as the topic of discussion because it correlates with so many other issues that Pennsylvanians are already facing. Empowered by the knowledge and experiences that have been shared here today, we can educate law makers and the public on how together, we can collaborate to reduce recidivism, and provide pathways to success for citizens re-entering society. We must work together to eliminate the barriers of discrimination, prejudice and stigma that often come with making a Read more


Kinsey announces PLBC policy hearing on re-entry initiatives

(Apr 18, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, April 18 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today announced that the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will be hosting a public policy hearing in conjunction with the House Democratic Policy Committee on re-entry initiatives and the transition from incarceration to civilian life. “It is critical that we work together to ensure that those who have paid their debts to society within the criminal justice system are given a chance to re-enter society once again,” Kinsey said. “I’m eager to hear from experts and the public on how we can improve these people’s lives and educate the public on how giving these folks a second chance helps to reduce recidivism.” The public policy hearing will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23 at Temple University’s Shusterman Hall, 1834 N. Park Ave. in Philadelphia. State legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, will attend the hearing. Special guests include: Bernard Hopkins, boxing champion; PA Board of Probation and Parole; The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office; The Defender Association of Philadelphia; Philadelphia OIC; Freddy Nole, former juvenile lifer; Romanus Miles, former inmate and tradesman; Dawn Chamberlain-Hunter, former inmate and entrepreneur; Asya Richardson, former inmate and entrepreneur; Bill DeWeese, former Speaker of the House; and more. For more information, contact Read more


Pa. House panel hears first hand about maternal mortality

(Apr 17, 2019)

“Over the past several months and last few years, there has been a heightened conversation around the fact that our maternal mortality rate is getting worse,” said state Rep. Morgan Cephas. Read more


Coalition of legislators unveils bills aimed at reforming police procedures

(Apr 16, 2019)

State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and PLBC members were joined by a coalition of legislators from around the state for a press conference to unveil a package of legislation aimed at streamlining police procedures and improving police-community relations at noon today in the Capitol Media Center. Read more


Bullock on Developing Climate Solutions

(Apr 15, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Donna Bullock spoke at panel about her experiences in becoming an advocate for effective climate change solutions. The panel was developed for marking UN Earth Day 2019. Read more